ARMCHAIR historians and anybody looking to delve into the shire’s past can now read digital copies of local newspapers dating back more than 100 years.
The Bega Valley Shire Library and the National Library of Australia have joined forces to make digital scans of the shire’s old newspapers available for all to read.
Newspapers in the project include the Bega Gazette (1865-1899), Bega Budget (1905-1920), Cobargo Chronicle (1898-1944) and various newspapers published in Twofold Bay and Eden (1860-1899).
“We’re incredibly excited to announce this project because it throws a light on our history quite unlike any other form of media,” library manager Ros Raward said.
“The newspapers provide a unique historical view of local heritage, with fascinating insights into the things that mattered for shire residents back in the day.
“Newspapers are different to books and works on local history because they present a range of local stories all sitting together in the same publication, which provides a fascinating snapshot of important news at a specific moment in time.
“It provides fascinating reading for anyone interested in family history or the early settlement days of the Bega Valley or family history,” Ms Raward said.
Local researcher Margaret Sly is already using the service to find valuable information on local families by searching the digitised newspapers online.
“The technology makes it easy to search by people’s names, property names or any key word,” Ms Sly said.
“I’ve been working on a project collecting information about the Bega Private Hospital and I’ve found so much information just from the old newspapers.”
Ms Raward said the project was made possible by working closely with the state and national libraries, and seeking a Revitalising Regional Libraries grant from the Library Council of NSW.
“With funding in place we were able to work with the national library in digitising the microfilms of old local newspapers, which are now preserved in the state collection in Sydney.
“The papers can now be viewed as digital copies of the originals, or easily read thanks to technology that places the words clearly on your computer screen.
“Not only are we keeping history alive we are also encouraging people to help enhance the service through subject tagging, text correcting and annotations.
“Volunteers are always welcome to help in correcting the digital text correcting, which can be done in the library or from the comfort of your own home if you have a computer and internet access.
“Taking part in this process will provide a great community service by piecing together the jigsaw of local history, and it’s hard to imagine a more fascinating project to work on.
“Anyone interested in local or family history will find fascinating stories about local events and personalities within these digital pages,” Ms Raward said.
The National Library’s newspaper digitisation program provides free online access to more than nine million pages from over 300 Australian metropolitan and regional newspapers from every state and territory.
All of the newspapers are fully text searchable, and the Trove technology allows users to easily find related information such as books, pictures, photos, maps and sound recordings.
People interested in volunteering for the text correcting project can get in touch with local and family history librarian Madeleine Chaleyer, or information services librarian Linda Albertson at the Bega library on 6499 2127.
The following local newspapers are available online through Trove:
* Bega Gazette and County of Auckland Advertiser (1865)
* Bega Gazette and Eden District or Southern Coast Advertiser (1865-1899)
* Bega Budget (1905-1920)
* Cobargo Chronicle (1898-1944)
* Eden Free Press and Eden District Advertiser (1899)
* Twofold Bay and Maneroo Observer (1860 – 1899)
* Twofold Bay and Maneroo Telegraph (1860)
* Twofold Bay Telegraph (1860)
* For more information on Trove go to: http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper.